The Experience of Entering ‘Israel’ as a Shi’ah Muslim…

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As a Shi’ah who recently visited Palestine/Jerusalem, I awaited till this day, Yawm al-Quds (Quds Day) to speak about my experiences, and specifically on what changed my outlook on the entire conflict therein.

For those who have visited ‘Israel’ before can confirm, if you travel there on an American passport they cannot deny you entry but can interrogate you; and in their interrogation they ask you certain compromising questions in which if you answer improperly, they can bar your entry for upwards of 10+ years. Therefore, you have to answer their questions as truthfully as possible [as they already know everything about you and just want verbal confirmation], but at the same time not get stuck in one of their verbal traps. They [the Israelis] also utilize every trick in the book to fluster those being interrogated, for example if the individual is a young man they make sure the interrogator is an attractive but extremely stern woman, and opposite for females. Obviously when I arrived at the Allenby Border Crossing, the Israelis wouldn’t just let me pass (for those who don’t know, I’m not white), and you can guess what happens next, I happen to get selected for the said interrogation with said woman interrogator.
 
The first question she barked at me was:
‘Why are you wearing sunglasses!?’
 
They are prescribed, but before I could even open my mouth to respond she barked again (with full anger):
‘DON’T YOU DARE SPEAK TO ME WHILE WEARING SUNGLASSES!!!’

So I took them off, and I’m not gonna lie at this point I was shook, but thankfully I gathered myself for her following onslaught of questions.

And of course the very first question she asks is:
‘Are you a Shi’ah?’

Knowing that they don’t allow Shi’ah’s entry because of Iran and remembering that I need to answer truthfully, but also not truthfully I responded:
‘I consider myself just a Muslim, not a follower of a sect’

She continued to ask me this same question in different ways, and I kept responding near verbatim.

She then changed up the question a bit:
‘So you are ‘just a Muslim’ and don’t believe in sects, but aren’t your parents Shi’ah?’

I responded:
‘They are as I am’

And she continued asking similar questions, also asking about my grandparents and other relatives. She then opened my passport and started quizzing me about some of the places I visited, when she got to Iraq, her demeanor changed and her questions became entirely venomous, to the extent that I can’t express in any written way. Her questions became extremely sulfuric in nature, and I could feel the personal vitriol she had for me.

She hissed:
‘You have been to Karbala?!’
‘Why did you go there and WHAT DOES KARBALA MEAN TO YOU?!’

If my heart were given the reins I would have responded:
‘Karbala means everything to me, my wealth, my family, my blood, my soul, my entire existence, everything I’d sacrifice for it.’
 
But, obviously I did not say that, let alone answer in a straight way, I instead replied:

‘My university Rutgers, has a relationship with the University of Kufa (which it does) and I visit Iraq often in order to visit the university specifically, afterwards as a lover of history I have visited all the historical sites in Southern Iraq because it is relatively safe.’

Even though my university has a relationship with the University of Kufa, visiting it would never be a priority, so I straight up lied there, but this is the kind of lie that can’t be disproved. Nonetheless, this one question kept repeating in my ears the entire trip, the poisonous way it was asked kept paining my heart, and it singlehandedly changed my entire outlook on the conflict.  

She continued assaulting me with similar Shi’ah/Karbala related questions and I kept deflecting to the best of my abilities, after that, without having touched my phone she started asking me private questions which only someone with access to my phone and email could do so. That freaked me out, but then again these are Israelis, if they don’t know your secrets who else would know? Nonetheless, I somehow managed to pass the interrogation but was kept nearly half a day and only released half past midnight.
 
For those who know me know that I’ve always been active in anti-Israel/anti-apartheid activities especially during my undergrad years, a simple Google search could easily verify that. I’ve written articles on the issue, and even been invited on Fox News to discuss my anti-Israel views. But the Israelis had zero concern with all of that, they were instead fixed on my Shi’i background.

Honestly, after the rise of ISIS, and seeing many poor uneducated Palestinian refugees join the terror group and attack the Shi’i community, take part in suicide bombing campaigns in Zaynabiyah (Damascus) and other religiously significant places, I took a step back from my activism and stopped vocally supporting Palestinian liberation. But after witnessing first hand the Israeli hatred for Shi’ism [and the message of Karbala], whatever distance there was between myself and the righteous cause evaporated, and I am now fully convinced that Imam al-Khomeini’s edicts commanding the Shi’ah community to support the Palestinians was not only appropriate but that the Palestinian cause is one in the same as the Shi’i cause, for their [Israeli] enmity for our communities is one and the same.  

I have traveled to lands where takfiris rule, and I have also lived among takfiris but no hatred towards my creed was displayed in way of words as did on that day. If any Shi’i, after reading this still differs, they are grievously mistaken.

By: Shabbir A. Abbas

‘Alī (‘a), the Grandson of ‘Alī (‘a): Communicating With the Almighty

‘Alī (‘a), the Grandson of ‘Alī (‘a): Communicating With the Almighty

Written by: Shabbir Agha Abbas

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(Grave of Zayn al-ʿAbidīn (‘a) in Madinah)

On the 5th of Sha’bān‎ (38 AH) arrived a newborn in the household of ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib (‘a) a blessing for not just him, but for humanity as a whole; the child being his eponymous grandson ‘Alī, who grew up to be known as Zayn al-ʿAbidīn (the adornment of the worshipers) and Sayyid al-Sājidīn (the master of the prostrators).* Both grandfather and grandson are remembered today for their mastery of the Arabic language, using it to draw mankind closer to their creator; the former by his thought-provoking sermons and exhortations and the latter with his arousing supplications.

The distinction between the two does not at all suggest that one was greater or lacking, but instead signifies the differing circumstances they were in. The grandfather, albeit shortly as the Caliph, was given utmost command over the pulpit whereas the grandson lived in an antagonistic era wherein he was restrained to the ṣaf (prayer rows) amongst the common worshippers, hence the essence may have been the same but the appearance not at all. As Zayn al-ʿAbidīn (‘a) was largely restricted to being just one amongst the worshippers, the means for the believers to be exposed to and ultimately guided by the inherited Prophetic teachings was limited to observing the Imam in his worship, in his prayers.

As the magnificent words of the grandfather, ‘Alī, have been preserved beautifully in the Nahj al-Balāghah, the words of the grandson ‘Alī have been preserved in al-Ṣaḥīfat al-Sajādīyah. However, unlike the Nahj, the Ṣaḥīfah was not compiled by scholars centuries after, it instead was inscribed by the Imam’s son Zayd ibn ‘Alī (‘a) whilst the Imam was narrating these divine supplications. It was written in the presence and on the command of the Imam. Hence, this special book is regarded by the historians as one of the earliest works to have been preserved in such pristine manner, and according to the hadith specialists this work is considered mutawātir, therefore unquestionably authentic. Therefore, in importance this work comes second only to the Qur’ān, and its relationship with the Qur’ān is like no other.

The Qur’ān in function is the divine speech of God to mankind, whereas in function the al-Ṣaḥīfat al-Sajādīyah is the perfect response of mankind to this speech. When reading the Qur’ān alongside the Ṣaḥīfah, it doesn’t seem as if they are two distinct texts instead they read as if they are in the form of discussion. How can this be so? It is, by not being a mere supplication in the form of petitioning the Almighty; instead it is a supplication surrounded by exegesis of the Qur’ān. To demonstrate this, the supplication that the Imam recited in Sha’bān‎ in anticipation of Ramaḍān is a worthy example, an excerpt:

“وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي جَعَلَ مِنْ تِلْكَ السُّبُلِ شَهْرَهُ, شَهْرَ رَمَضَانَ, شَهْرَ الصِّيَامِ، وَ شَهْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ, وَ شَهْرَ الطَّهُورِ، وَ شَهْرَ التَّمْحِيصِ، وَ شَهْرَ الْقِيَامِ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ ، هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ ، وَ بَيِّنَاتٍ مِنَ الْهُدَى وَ الْفُرْقَانِ“**

“And praise belongs to God who appointed among those roads His month, the month of Ramaḍān, the month of fasting, the month of submission, the month of purity, the month of putting to test, the month of standing in prayer, in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance to the people, and as clear signs of the Guidance and the Separator!”***

As all proper supplications begin with an adoration of the Almighty, the Imam does so, but in doing so he mentions the month of Ramaḍān, briefly extolling its virtues. After listing them, when he continues on by saying ‘in which’ (الَّذِي) at that moment the words transition from his to Allah’s, however, the transition is entirely seamless. One cannot by the words alone discern the distinction between the two sources; it very well feels as though the train of thought is one of unison.

Nevertheless, being interspersed with verses is a general motif of the supplications, therefore the communiqué that is the Ṣaḥīfah can be understood as a petition to the Almighty using the Almighty’s own words, therefore the efficacy in communication is ultimate. It can quite simply be surmised as such, that the Prophet (s) introduced us to the Almighty (His oneness), whereas ‘Alī described the ṣifāt of the Almighty, and Zayn al-ʿAbidīn showed us how to communicate with the Almighty. As the month of the Qur’ān descends upon us, it would benefit us immeasurably to use this Ṣaḥīfah as our means of communication with Allah ‘azza wa jal, and to attain His proximity.

—-

* There are disagreements on whether he was born in Kufa or Madinah, but it is agreed that he was born during the Caliphate of his grandfather.

** al-Ṣaḥīfat al-Sajādīyah, Supplication 44

*** Qur’ān 2:185

Three Prescriptions From the Pharmacy of ‘Alī (‘a)

Three Prescriptions From the Pharmacy of ‘Alī (‘a)

By: Shabbir Agha Abbas

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As it is the birth month of ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib (‘a), Rajab al-Murajjab, it would be more than beneficial to revisit the vast pharmacy of wisdom that is the collection of sayings, exhortations, and advice of our beloved Imām. The way it is routine to make monthly visits to dispensaries to refill one’s prescriptions for the ‘ilāj (remedy) of their bodies, it should also be imperative for one to revisit the verses of the Qur’ān and the ahadith for they too are remedies for not just the individual’s physical selves but also that of their souls. The special status of Amīr al-Muʾminīn is that his prescriptions are not just dual in the sense that they remedy both physical and spiritual ailments, but that they are dually relevant to believers and disbelievers alike, beneficial for all who possess intellect.

Of the many written collections of our Imām’s wisdom, there is none more notable than the Nahj al-Balāghah compiled by al-Sharīf al-Raī. However, the Nahj is not all encompassing, therefore it is crucial for both students of knowledge and those seeking healing to search for his wisdom wherever one can find it. As mentioned above the relevancy of his wisdom is transcending so scholars from a wide array of schools and ideologies within Islām have all partaken in this quest to find and record this unquantifiable source of wisdom that is our Imām. Therefore, we find some of the greatest of works on the life and legacy of ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib to not have been produced by just his Shī’ah, but by others such as the Khaṣāʾiṣ Amīr al-Muʾminīn of Imām al-Nasā’ī (al-Nasā’ī being one of the six compilers of the Sunni Ṣiah al-Sittah/Authentic Six); this Khaṣāʾiṣ is an extremely important collection of the virtues and individual merits of the Imām. Likewise, the work Dastūr Ma’ālam al-Hikam of the Shāfi’ī scholar al-Qāī al-Quā’ī [employed by the Fatimids] is a compilation of the wisdom of Amīr al-Muʾminīn in the guise of his literary and oratorical brilliance. Luckily, these two works have been translated into the English language, the former by Shaykh Michael Mumisa and the latter by Dr. Tahera Qutbuddin, respectively. It would be quite valuable to obtain these two translations and keep them alongside one’s copy of the Nahj al-Balāghah.

Nonetheless, returning to the prescriptive function of the narrations of ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib three from the Dastūr Ma’ālam al-Hikam have been chosen for the benefit of those reading.

1. دع عنك اظن واحسب وارى

Avoid saying “I guess,” “I suppose,” and “I reckon”

Speaking without knowledge is one of the greatest follies of mankind, not only is it sinful but it can lead to serious ramifications in not just one’s own life but that of other’s as well. Assumptions are dangerous, because they aren’t typically based on facts but largely based on emotions and personal biases. It is best if one thoroughly searches for the truth, and if one cannot attain it then at least admit to not knowing. Saying, ‘I do not know’ is a good practice for one to remain humble, and humility is a good trait for a Muslim to possess.

 

2. تخير لوردك

Choose carefully where you water your camels.

In the time of Amīr al-Muʾminīn camels served as the source of livelihood for many a people. Not only were camels important vehicles for transportation, they too provided revenue for their owners by means of their fur (textiles) and milk (dairy); hence they were tools of economic sustenance. But as any business requires capital to grow, camels need to be fed and watered, however even in the water-starved deserts of Arabia a camel cannot be made to drink from any pond or well, the source of water must first be deduced that it is not tainted. Likewise, when we search for our rizq (sustenance) we too must thoroughly ensure that its source is pure, lest we suffer the consequences.

 

3. لا تقض وانت غضبان ولا من النوم سكران

Do not judge when you are angry or intoxicated by sleep.

Many a times in life we make irresponsible and even irreparable decisions while not in a proper state of mind, especially in times of rage and impairment. When one is angry their inhibitions are lowered, and thus more likely to hurt others and to take risks. Therefore we are seeing more and more companies offering anger management courses to its employees, for an angry state of mind poses not just an unsafe environment but also risks the success of that business. As anger is inappropriate for the workplace, it too is inappropriate for our personal lives. Similarly, intoxication whether by the depravity of sleep or the consumption of drugs can result in horrible consequences, the disasters related to intoxicated driving are enough for one to comprehend.

 
The above three are simple short phrases that one could easily impress into their minds, and like the above there is no shortage of prescriptions from the Imām. So gather a few compilation books, however, not to just read, but to make the wisdom of the Imām as found in these books an active participant in one’s life, make it regimen to jot down and memorize these sayings if not daily then at least monthly. Surely, doing so will lead one to both a complete and fulfilling life and a successful hereafter.

 

(This article was originally written for the Masjid-e-Ali Newsletter: https://s3.amazonaws.com/masjid-e-ali.org/April+Newsletter.pdf )

The Practice of Jihād

Please recite a Sūrat al-Fātiḥah for the 1700 cadets of Camp Speicher who were brutally murdered on this day last year (6/12), and for all the righteous mujahideen past, present, and future, who have laid down their lives fi sabil Allah (in the way of God).

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The Practice of Jihād

When studying religions one will ultimately arrive at the understanding that all religions comprise of two fundamental things, which are principles and practices. Similarly the religion of Islam, specifically Shi’i Islam, too consists of these two divisions. The principles being the Uṣūl ad-Dīn and the practices being the furūʿ ad-dīn, for a Shi’i to properly follow his/her religion it is compulsory to adhere to the principles and performing the said practices, neglecting them or rebuffing them would be tantamount to disbelief. Of the compulsory practices one such practice is rather infamous, it is the practice of jihād. This blog-post will attempt to answer three essential questions on jihād and they are:

What is jihād?

What are the different forms of jihād?

What are the consequences of not performing jihād?

What is jihād?

In the simplest of definitions jihād means ‘to strive,’ in Islamic terminology it denotes to any form of activity, either personal or community-wide, of Muslims in attempting to strive for the cause of God and for the sake of Islam. And when you strive for the sake of something your goal is to preserve that thing, to protect it from dangers; hence to further understand what jihād is an example must be given of dangers currently threatening Islam, the greatest threat to Islam today is an internal threat, the threat of extremism. Extremists, specifically under the tutelage of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda have put the entire Islamic world in a state of crisis thus in continuing this discussion on jihād the example of extremists will be used as to whom jihād must be performed against.

What are the different forms of jihād?

The practice of jihād has many forms, of which 5 are most notable, they are:

  • jihād bil-qalb/nafs – jihād of the heart/soul

This form of jihād is also known as al-jihād al-akbar, or ‘the greater jihād,’ it is the individual’s internal struggle to protect his/her faith from the temptations of Shaytan. In a time when the image of Islam is being tarnished by extremists it is very easy for one to become disaffected by Islam, in this case jihād bil-qalb/nafs requires the individual to do whatever possible to strengthen and guard his/her iman, or faith in Islam. When the world is shunning Islam and life begins to become increasingly difficult for Muslims a practical way to perform this jihād is to delve into a state of tazkiyah al-nafs, ‘self-purification,’ by studying and acting upon the sharīʿah as found in the traditions of the Holy Prophet (s) and his purified progeny (s). By doing such one will be able to achieve a qalb salim, tranquil heart, thus affirming one’s faith and ultimately deflecting the temptations of Shaytan.

“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” (Qur’an 2:16)

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  • jihād bil-lisan – jihād by the tongue

This form of jihād is an external jihād, wherein Islam is defended by the use of one’s speech. How can Islam be defended by one’s speech? Easy, by talking to those in one’s reach one can rid the misconceptions and lies about the religion, this can extend to giving lectures and debating. And since social media now has become an extension of one’s speech it too falls under this format of jihād. Therefore in context of the given example one can debunk the falsity of extremist Islam by presenting the true teachings of the Holy Prophet (s) and his purified progeny (s); of which a simple method would be sharing factual articles on facebook/twitter. Inviting to the religion of Islam, da’awah, too falls under this category.

“By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.” (Qur’an 103)

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (Qur’an 16:125)

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  • jihād bil-qalam/’ilm – jihād by the pen/knowledge

This jihād requires the individual to engage in scholarly research in order to defend Islam from said misconceptions and lies, therefore this jihād goes hand in hand with the jihād bil-lisan. How can one share factual articles on social media if there is no one to write the articles in the first place? Hence, becoming a bookworm in order to distinguish truth from falsehood is an act of jihād bil-qalam/’ilm. The Imams from the Ahl al-Bayt (s) have repeatedly emphasized the importance of this jihād.

Amir al-Mu’minīn ‘Ali (‘a) has said: ” …The reward of a religious scholar is greater than the reward of a person who is fasting on days and establishes prayers during the night and fights in the Holy War for the sake of Allah. And, when a religious scholar dies, there will appear a gap in Islam which cannot be compensated except by a replacement of that (kind).” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 2, p. 43)

Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (‘a) has said: “The scholars of our followers are the guards of the bounds of Islam. Then, anyone of our followers who undertakes this (duty) is superior to the one who fights in the battle against the Romans, (because this one defends the theological bounds of our followers).” (AI-Ihtijaj, vol. 2, p. 155)

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  • jihād bil-yad – jihād by the hand

This form of jihād requires physical action. If one witnesses wrongdoing/injustice the action taken to stop it is this jihād. Examples in practice would be stopping a thief, saving a life, aiding the homeless, etc. This jihād fundamentally is to stand up for what is right, always.
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  • jihād bil-sayf – jihād by the sword

This form of jihād, perhaps the most misunderstood and maligned, deals with the usage of violence or qital fi sabilillah, or fighting in the way of God. This form of jihād tends to be a last resort and only situationally compulsory, therefore it is fittingly known as al-jihād al-asghar. In the plethora of misconceptions about Islam this jihād is precisely why the term jihād itself is infamously mistranslated as ‘holy war,’ therefore being aware to the realities of this format is crucial. The only two situations where jihād bil-sayf is permissible is:

  1. Initiated jihād (fighting against oppression/evil)
  2. For self-defense

Furthermore there are a number of rules of engagement that must be upheld when conducting jihād bil-sayf. Some of which are:

-jihād must only be in the name of Allah, and in the case of Initiated jihād declared only by His Prophet (s), the Imam/Hakim, or their deputies. The current jihād in Iraq against ISIS only became valid after the maraj’e, the representatives of the Imam al-’Asr (‘a), declared it so.

-Offensive war is not allowed, jihād bil-sayf is defensive in nature.

-jihād is only in the cause of God and for the sake of Islam, it is not allowed to wage violence for personal gain, wealth, vengeance, etc.

-The sick, elderly, women and children should not be harmed, neither should the natural world (trees, vegetation, animals).

-Places of worship are not be demolished.

-Indiscriminate killings should be avoided and the corpses of the enemy must not be disfigured.

-The prisoners of war must be treated humanely and not be tortured.

Even though this form of jihād is situational it is also a requirement to be in a state of preparedness for said situation, meaning one needs to remain physically fit, be knowledgeable in the art of war, know how to use weaponry and artillery.

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What are the consequences of not performing jihād?

First and foremost the neglecting or abstaining from one’s duty of jihād is considered a major sin in Islam. Doing so of the lesser jihād, jihād bil-sayf, incurs the wrath of the Almighty hence the consequence of not performing the greater jihād, jihād bil-qalb/nafs must too be equally if not more unpleasant.

“O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve marching for war, then turn not your backs to them. And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day- unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company then he, indeed, becomes deserving of Allah’s wrath and his abode is hell; and an evil destination shall it be.” (Qur’an 8:15-16)

Similarly the great martyred scholar Sayyid ‘Abd al-Husayn Dastghaib Shirazi has reported that Amir al-Mu’minīn ‘Ali (‘a) has said:

“Those who flee from the battlefield should know that they have angered their Lord and have damned themselves to destruction because fleeing from the battle causes Allah’s anger. And one who flees from the Holy war will be certain to face calamities and eternal degradation and his fleeing will not prevent death, and his life cannot be prolonged. That is, if the time of his death has arrived, his fleeing will not delay it. He will die due to some other reason. On the other hand, if the time of his death has not yet arrived and he participates in jihād he will not die. Thus it is better for one to pledge his life to Allah rather than live in Allah’s anger, degradation and dishonour.” (Greater Sins Vol 2, The Twenty-Seventh Greater Sin, p. 191)

Discussion
The practice of jihād should be given utmost importance, especially in this day and age when extremists are bent on hijacking Islam. In this past year 40,000 of our comrades, in Iraq alone, have been martyred in the performance of jihād bil-sayf, therefore no excuses should be given for not performing the other 4 forms of jihād especially when the format and methodology have been thoroughly explained. The dangers posed by extremists are real and must be combated, be it with our hearts, tongues, pens, hands, or lives.

Written by:

Agha Shabbir Abbas

Who are the Rawāfid?

Written By: Agha Shabbir Abbas

Who are the Rawāfiḍ?

The term روافض Rawāfiḍ derives from the tri-consonant root ر ف ض which means ‘to reject’ or ‘to refuse,’ hence the Rawāfiḍ are the ‘rejectors.’ This term in the Muslim populace is seen as something derogatory in nature, analogous to the label ‘Refusenik’ put on the Soviet Jews who were deemed as security liabilities and traitorous in nature. This supposed nomen odiosum, abusive name, throughout history has been used by some in the majority Sunni population to label the Shīʿah for they ‘rejected’ the Khulafāʾ Rāshidūn, the Caliphate of Abi Bakr, ‘Umar, Uthman; for they instead only accepted the khilāfa of Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (A) and his descendents. This rejection by the Shīʿah was and still is seen as something disgraceful by the majority and deserving of intolerance.

Example of the term Rawāfiḍ being used in a derogatory manner:

However in regards to the Shīʿah the term Rawāfiḍ is in fact an honorific and not something negative. This is rather odd that a term used as an insult by some is welcomed by the insulted. To understand this we must delve into the narrations. In the fourth section of Kitab al-mahasin, Kitab al-safwa wa l-nur wa l-rahma, we find a disciple of Imam Ja`far ibn Muḥammad al-Ṣādiq (A) complaining to him that he was being abused and labelled as such, in response the Imam (A) said:

“By God, this name which God has granted you is excellent, as long as you follow our teachings and don’t attribute lies to us.”

The predecessor of Imam al-Ṣādiq, his father Imam Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Bāqir (A) explained the origins of the Rawāfiḍ for they were not a new phenomena, they were present during the time of Mūsa (A). In the same Kitab al-mahasin Imam al-Bāqir (A) is recorded to have said that:

“Seventy men from Fir’awn’s camp rejected Fir’awn and came to Mūsa (A); there was no one among the people of Mūsa (A) whose dedication and love for Hārūn (A) exceeded theirs.”

Ignoring the similitude between Hārūn (A) and Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (A) we must instead look at the two groups as mentioned in the Qur’ān. In Surat Al-‘A`rāf (7:120-126) and Surat Ţāhā (20:70-74) those who rejected Fir’awn are mentioned such that they were threatened with death for their rejection, nevertheless they remained firm in their stance.

Fir’awn threatened:
“Be sure I will cut off your hands and your feet on apposite sides, and I will cause you all to die on the cross.” (7:124)

The seventy men bravely responded:
“For us, We are but sent back unto our Lord” (7:125)

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This rejection of tyranny and evil and the threat of death is equivalent to the life of persecution faced by the Shīʿah. Hence the Shīʿah must proudly call themselves the Rawāfiḍ, by doing so evil is rejected and justice is upheld for the Rawāfiḍ will always stand up against the Fir’awn of their time whether they call themselves Muslim (e.g. ISIS) or they ironically call themselves the followers of Mūsa (A) (e.g. Israel).

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Islamic Unity?

Islamic Unity?

Written by: Agha Shabbir Abbas

Before delving into what Islamic unity actually is, let us first understand what it isn’t. Many of those in opposition to Islamic unity allege that the advocates of unity are in fact trying to create a new universal madhab (school of thought) based on commonalities, excluding all differences. This claim is completely ludicrous and illogical, for it would be a motion that the Muslim populace would never agree upon. Rather this is just a malicious allegation with the intent of defeating all hopes of unity. The differences between the various madhahib (schools of thought) are here to stay. These differences are the results of 1400 years of scholarly debate to expect a solution today is sheer madness. Therefore Islamic unity has nothing to do with madhab conformity it instead has to do with madhab tolerance, it is a call to ‘agree to disagree’.

Agreeing to disagree gives us the ability to remain amicable and tolerant of each other whilst upholding contrary opinions. This is of utmost importance especially when dealing with highly sensitive, emotion arousing, issues. We humans are capable of committing horrible deeds when our emotions go unchecked.

Examples:

Balochistan, Pakistan

In the above video Shi’a pilgrims are removed from a bus and brutally massacred. Shi’a Pilgrims travelling to Mashad are routinely executed barbarically by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Terrorists.

Karachi, Nishtar Park Bombing (2006)

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_gjwGupsDOEeBKUeOgm9KuH1tWOInPWRK527GcDmFD466TbXKDrD9mMcoFOC-Spmw3rxYi7skBRy_2OSf4Y9W9CYOkuwI27M8MvMSomZzl05sNRK3HazSk8Iu7QTEg

Sunni Hanafi/Barelwi Muslims were in the midst of celebrating Mawlid (the Prophet’s (S) birthday) when a massive bomb exploded killing 50 innocent people, including many preeminent scholars. The Lashkar e Jhangvi group an extremist Sunni Deobondi group claimed responsibility for this heinous attack. The Lashkar e Jhangvi are doctrinally opposed to the celebration of Mawlid.

Intercommunal Violence, Iraq

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/Uzk-Qs8KxsqJn0EvmMALgJD4Pvb0855-iMgkit1YdaSICgOBpdlGrXURBxyRwT35yvbDyTISEOoZxfcAThO3bWeob-zwMmKPexZRhGovlPbyV32CikIcegzJqQzvMw

Shi’a and Sunni Muslims in Iraq are targets of suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices, lynchings, kidnappings on an almost daily basis at the hands of Al-Qaeda and other affiliated groups. 

 

Benefits of Islamic Unity:

All Muslims ultimately have one focal point and that is the worship of the One Almighty Allah (SWT) and belief in the Prophethood of the Muhammad (S). Therefore, deriving from these two, Muslims have more similarities than differences. Muslims share the same:

Qur’an (holy book)

Qiblah (direction of prayer)

Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah)

Eid (Islamic Holiday)

Salaat (5 daily prayers)

Sawm (fasting in Ramadan)

Halal/Dhabiha Food

and many others

Deriving from these similarities Muslims, devoid of madhahib, tend to have the same needs in life, thus Islamic unity would make life less difficult because we would be able to achieve our goals en masse. This is especially evident for the Muslims residing in non-Muslim nations.

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Political Stability

The famous saying “united we stand, divided we fall” is more than apparent in the Muslim world. Nearly the entire Muslim world is under subjugation from outsiders who are reaping benefit from our disunity. When we as a people are disunited we are weak and easily subdued. Our resources are stolen and our people suffer. Almost the entirety of Muslim nations are destitute and under subjugation of imperialist powers.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), composed of 57 nations and 1.6 billion people would seem to be hardly a pushover, instead the OIC is a joke. As a power bloc it has done nothing remarkable for the betterment of Muslims, look at the suffering people of Palestine and Kashmir.

Are there any alternatives to Islamic unity?

Yes, there is one notable alternative to Islamic unity and that is to borrow the idea of peace-lines. From the 1960s to the late 1990s there was a huge conflict between the Protestant and Catholic Christian peoples of Northern Ireland. This conflict led to the bloodshed of thousands of innocent human beings, finally being brought to a stop by the construction of huge walls segregating the Protestant and Catholic communities.

 

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Peace-line in Belfast
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By physically separating the Sunnis from the Shi’as, the Sufis from the Salafis, there would no longer be any bloodshed. How effective would it be to build walls throughout Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus etc in order to maintain peace?

 

Modern Psychology in the Qur’an: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Written by: Agha Shabbir Abbas

It is most certain that the majority of readers have taken a course in Psychology, either in high school or in university studies. In this field of psychology, there is a huge study called personality and behavioral psychology.  Within this study, a major focal point is the concept of the human ‘ego’. This ‘ego’ as defined by the academics, is the view of oneself, the thing that distinguishes oneself from the other selves, self-importance. This ego is a major cause of concern because of the negative aspects it produces: pride, arrogance, anger, hatred, jealousy, revenge, etc…  The ego is an issue that all people face but yet it is one of the hardest to distinguish.  For example if one is an alcoholic, it is visible & self-evident to everyone.  But, issues with the ego are internal and cannot be quantified. Just as  alcoholism ruins lives, similarly the ego ruins lives. There is much research and discussion on the issue academically and within secular sciences, but the true answer to this dilemma is found within the religion of Islam.

Before delving into the Islamic aspects, let’s first quickly glance at one psychological theory on the ego. Abraham Maslow, a 20th century psychologist, through his extensive research proposed a “Theory of Human Motivation”, now known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”. His theory is presented in the shape of a 5-layered pyramid. The lowest two layers are the physiological and safety needs, the middle two layers are love/respect esteem, and the highest layer is self-actualization.

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Now let us diverge our attention to the Qur’an. Allah SWT says in Surat al-Ana’am:

مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِي الكِتَابِ مِن شَيْءٍ

“We have not neglected anything in this book” (6:38)

Thus Allah SWT is asserting that all knowledge can be found in the Qur’an. This is the beauty in the religion, the concept that Abraham Maslow prepared after intense research was already told in the Qur’an fourteen hundred years prior.

This ego in the Qur’an is analogous to the term ‘nafs’. Allah SWT in the Qur’an states that there are three stages of the nafs. The first is called the “nafs ammara” in Surah Yusuf:

إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ

“The self is inclined towards evil” (12:53)

This is the most basic level, equivalent with the bottom two layers in Maslow’s theory.  It is the basic animal-like instincts of a human which lead one to only worry about oneself. The second is called the “nafs al lawwama” in Surat al-Qiyamah:

وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ

“But nay! I call to witness the accusing voice of man’s own conscience!” (75:2)

This is equivalent to the two middle layers in Maslow’s theory.  This state of the nafs is where one begins to gain consciousness and realize personal errors and weaknesses. The third and highest state is the “nafs al Mutmainna” in Surat al-Fajr:

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ

“O thou human being that hast attained to inner peace/tranquility!” (89:27)

The nafs al mutmainna is equivalent to the layer of self actualization; the state when the ego is totally killed and the individual understands their true purpose in life. This is the state where one should attempt to reach. And to achieve this state of tranquility Allah SWT says in Surat al-Ra’ad:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ أَلاَ بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“…those who believe, and whose hearts find their tranquility in the remembrance of God – for, verily, in the remembrance of God [men’s] hearts do find their tranquility” (13:28)

Thus to quell the negative forces of our ‘ego’ we must have constant remembrance of Allah SWT, in essence being humble in every act we do, inwardly and outwardly.

This trait of being humble, having humility is the one of the main reasons for the chain of Risalat, the Prophets came to teach us this trait. Allah SWT says in Surat al-A’raf:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّبِيٍّ إِلاَّ أَخَذْنَا أَهْلَهَا بِالْبَأْسَاء وَالضَّرَّاء لَعَلَّهُمْ يَضَّرَّعُونَ

“Whenever We sent a prophet to a town, We took up its people in suffering and adversity, in order that they might learn humility.” (7:94)

Thus if we take a glance at history we have a model in one person who was at such a state of humility that he was given the title “nafs al mutmainna” because he gave everything away in the love of Allah SWT, this was Imam Hussain (AS).  He did not hesitate at the size of his opposition. Allama Iqbal in his Rumuz e Bekhudi, the Secrets of Selflessness says:

Mudda ā yash saltanat boody agar

Khud na hardy bā chunin sāmmāne safar

If Imam Hussain (AS) had an ambition to rule,

 he would have made preparations to face his enemy,

instead he was ready for the ultimate sacrifice.

The extreme opposite of ‘nafs al-mutmainna’, one of the most animalistic individuals in history was Yazid(la).  The Qur’an further tells us what happens to those who follow their ego and have no humbleness no humility.

لَـكِن قَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ مَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ

“They did not humble themselves, but rather their hearts grew hard, for Satan had made all their doings seem goodly to them.” (6:43)

 

People who follow their egos, their hearts have become hardened, whilst they enjoy life. Albeit this enjoyment is a false enjoyment, it is just an illusion, whereas real enjoyment is at the stage of self-actualization, where ego is erased and man reaches his greatest potential.

Taqwá Al-Qulūbi

Written by: Agha Shabbir Abbas

bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

The terms ‘Qalb’ (s) and ‘Qulūb’ (pl) are used multiple times in the Qur’an by the Almighty, to denote the heart. For the heart is the focal point of the being, physically and metaphorically. In regards to belief the Almighty has given a very important role to the heart. The heart of all humans contains the measurement of one’s intentions; a heart filled with malice and bad intentions is diseased.

Lā Yu’uākhidhukumu Allāhu Bil-Laghwi Fī ‘Aymānikum Wa Lak- inYu’uākhidhukum Bimā Kasabat Qulūbukum Wa Allāhu Ghafūru n Ĥalīmun

Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing. (2:225)

 

Karbala
Karbala

Fī Qulūbihim Marađun Fazādahumu Allāhu Marađāan Wa La- hum `Adhābun’Alīmun Bimā Kānū Yakdhibūna

In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: And grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves). (2:10)

To ensure that the hearts of the believers remain spiritually clean, the Almighty has given us the ‘Taqwa’. The term ‘Taqwa’ means piety, which in the realm of Islam points towards devotion; devotion towards the Almighty and His religion, Islam. The Almighty has stated in the Qur’an how one can attain this piety.

Dhālika Wa Man Yu`ažžim Sha`ā’ira Allāhi Fa’innahā Min Taqwá Al-Qulūbi

That (shall be so); and whoever respects the signs of Allah, most surely is the piety of the heart. (22:32)

The Almighty says to have, ‘Taqwá Al-Qulūbi’, piety of the heart one must respect the ‘signs’ of Allah. The term ‘sign’ is ambigu- ous unless researched. The Almighty uses the Arabic word ‘Sha`ā’ir’ to designate ‘sign’ of the Almighty. To understand what this means one has to look at how this term has been used at other locations in the Qur’an.

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‘Inna Aş-Şafā Wa Al-Marwata Min Sha`ā’iri Allāhi Faman Ĥajja Al-Bayta ‘AwA`tamara Falā Junāĥa `Alayhi ‘An Yaţţawwafa Bihimā Wa Man Taţawwa`aKhayrāan Fa’inna Allāha Shākirun `Alīmun

Surely the Safa and the Marwa are among the signs appointed by Allah; so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit (to it), there is no blame on him if he goes round them both; and whoever does good spontaneously, then surely Allah is Grateful, Knowing. (2:158)

YYā ‘Ayyuhā Al-Ladhīna ‘Āmanū Lā Tuĥillū Sha`ā’ira Allāhi Wa Lā Ash-ShahraAl-Ĥarāma Wa Lā Al-Hadya Wa Lā Al-Qalā’ida Wa Lā ‘Āmmīna Al-Bayta Al-Ĥarāma Yabtaghūna Fađlāan Min Rabbihim Wa Riđwānāan Wa ‘Idhā ĤalaltumFāşţādū Wa Lā Yajrimannakum Shana’ānu Qawmin ‘An Şaddūkum `Ani Al- Masjidi Al-Ĥarāmi ‘An Ta`tadū Wa Ta`āwanū `Alá Al-Birri Wa At -Taqwá Wa Lā Ta`āwanū `Alá Al-‘Ithmi Wa Al-`Udwāni Wa Attaqū Allāha ‘Inna AllāhaShadīdu Al-`Iqābi

O you who believe! do not violate the signs appointed by Allah nor the sacred month, nor (interfere with) the offerings, nor the sacrificial animals with garlands/ropes, nor those going to the sa- cred house seeking the grace and pleasure of their Lord; and when you are free from the obligations of the pilgrimage, then hunt, and let not hatred of a people– because they hindered you from the Sacred Masjid– incite you to exceed the limits, and help one an- other in goodness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and aggression; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Al- lah is severe in requiting (evil). (5:2)

Therefore it is understood that these ‘signs’ are all in regards to

Hajj, with extreme importance to the sacrificing of animals. The sacrificial animals are themselves ‘signs’ of Allah, including the garlands and ropes that they are tied with. It is remarkable that the garlands and ropes are also ‘signs’ that we must respect. The Qur’an does not limit the ‘signs’ to just these but in fact extends it to all items of remembrance. The reason behind this is that all these items remind us of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (A) and his son Ismael (A). This sacrifice is detailed in the Qur’an.

Wa Fadaynāhu Bidhibĥin `Ažīmin

And We ransomed him[Ismael] with a momentous sacrifice (37:107)

Wa Taraknā `Alayhi Fī Al-‘Ākhirīna

And We left [this blessing] for Ibrahim among his generations [to come] in later times (37:108)

The Almighty has promised that this sacrifice will be repeated by a descendent of Ibrahim. Which, by the Ijmāʿ(consensus) of the scholars it is noted that this sacrifice ‘dhibĥin `Ažīm’ was re- peated as the sacrifice of the family of Muhammad (S) at Karbala, Muhammad (S) being a descendent of Ibrahim (A). At the battle of Karbala the grandson of Muhammad (S), named Hussain (A), sacrificed all that he had in the love of the Almighty. Thus all of the artifacts that create remembrance for this sacrifice are consid- ered ‘Sha`ā’ir’ ‘signs’ of Allah similar to that of Hajj. If sacrifice of Ibrahim (A) and Ismael (A) are remembered annually than Kar- bala too must be remembered annually. If the scanty ropes tied on the necks of sheep are ‘signs’ than the ropes tied on the flags and standards during Ashura processions, too are ‘signs’ of Allah.

Thus it is our duty to honor and respect the artifacts of Azadari lest our hearts become diseased.

karbala